Name a Vernon Viper, and chances are Brett Mulcahy has played with them.
From skating last season with Mason Blacklock and Demico Hannoun on the Surrey Eagles, to Major Midget with Colton Sparrow on the Okanagan Rockets, to spring league with Ryan Renz, to minor hockey with T.J. Dumonceaux and Brendan Persley, he sees a lot of familiar faces on his new B.C. Hockey League club.
“I pretty much know the whole team,” said Mulcahy, who Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson acquired from the Eagles in a Monday trade.
“I know a few guys off every team because I’ve been around the league for a while, but I know seven or eight guys here pretty well.”
Williamson sent third-line forward Chase McMurphy and future considerations to Surrey in exchange for Mulcahy, captain and top goal-getter of the Eagles. Vernon also receives future considerations.
Mulcahy, a 20-year-old Kelowna product, racked up 23 goals and 12 assists with the Eagles, who he captained to an RBC Cup appearance last season. He is committed to the NCAA Holy Cross Crusaders of Massachusetts for next season.
“He’s a two-time captain and a guy that’s won before,” said Williamson. “That experience is valuable and he’s a good two-way hockey player.”
Mulcahy said last year’s RBC Cup run experience will come in handy when Vernon hosts the national Junior A tournament, May 10-18, at Kal Tire Place.
“It takes a lot for a team to win like we did last year, and there’s a few guys (Renz, Sparrow, Hannoun) in the room that can lean on that experience.
“A team has to be cohesive and work together and play within the systems. If everybody takes care of their role, the wins will come and the team will be successful.”
With one remaining player card and an available roster spot, Vernon Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson is working the phones this week to tweak his roster one last time before Friday’s BCHL trade deadline.
The extra roster spot opened up when d-man Mark Hamilton underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. With seven blueliners in the fold, Williamson is looking to add another forward.
Meanwhile, Michael Statchuk’s top-shelf rocket from the point midway through the second period stood as the winner as Vernon outlasted the visiting Nanaimo Clippers 3-2 Saturday night.
Statchuk was slightly more elated over his second snipe of the season, his first being an empty-netter.
“(Sparrow) made a perfect pass and just teed it up for me, and I just buried my head and was hoping it went in,” smiled the Wadena, Sask. product, who missed part of the third period after taking a high stick to the face.
Ex-Clipper Josh Bryan (4th goal), sneaking in from the point to bury a backdoor feed from first star Sparrow, opened Vernon’s account in front of 2,100 fans during a first-period powerplay.
In the second frame, Dexter Dancs circled into the slot from the sidewall, beating Tanner Kovacs with a wrister for the 2-0 goal.
“It’s just a couple of shifts we got outworked a little bit. Other than that, we played pretty well,” said Nanaimo head coach Mike Vandekamp.
The Clippers outshot the Vipers 40-27, but they didn’t generate many Grade A scoring chances.
“Early on, we weren’t penetrating or getting to the net enough,” said Vandekamp, who coached Williamson on the Vipers (2001-03).
Vernon native Colton Dahlen, a d-man with the Shipmen, agreed: “I thought we outplayed them most of the game. We were outshooting them, we just couldn’t bury our chances. That’s what hurt us.”
Dahlen, one of three 20-year-olds with Nanaimo, is enjoying his leadership role with the youthful Clippers.
“It’s just getting mentally stronger and being ready to play every single game,” he said. “There’s young guys who, in Midget, they can have a bad game and nobody would notice. In this league, you have to have a good game every single game, or you’re going to get taken advantage of.”
The Clippers (20-19-1-1) were finally rewarded in the third period with goals by Brendan Taylor (13th, shorthanded) and Bo Brauer (15th, powerplay).
Nanaimo pressed hard for the equalizer, pulling Kovacs (24 saves) for the extra attacker, but they couldn’t put anything else past third star Austin Smith, who finished with 38 saves.
Vernon, second in the Interior at 21-11-3-4, entertains the first-place Penticton Vees (25-9-2-3) Friday night. The Coquitlam Express (18-16-1-3) visit Vernon Saturday.
The Vees, 6-2 winners over the Merritt Centennials Sunday, also added firepower for the playoff run. On Saturday, they picked up sniper Nicolas Pierog from the Eagles in exchange for forward Anthony Conti and future considerations.
Penticton head coach/GM Fred Harbinson also plucked forward Erik Benoit from the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors.
Benoit, a veteran of 213 Dub games with four teams, has three assists in two games with Penticton.
“We definitely add experience with Pierog winning a championship and Benoit, who has been at two Memorial Cups winning a Western League championship as well,” said Harbinson. “Our fans have come out this year and supported us. We’re going to do everything possible to try to bring a championship here.”